Unless you are part of a meal delivery service, cooking in bulk to prep for the week is vital. An occasional meal out isn’t going to hurt your progress too much, but in excess will be detrimental. This bulk cook also doesn’t need to be 5-Star restaurant quality. Our weekly meals are fuel – we need carbs, fats, and protein. Keep it simple and save the duck confit with mango aioli quinoa and avocado tomato salad for your splurge over the weekend. Basic meals are easy and fuel the body well, don’t over complicate this shit. Simplicity is key.
If you have a typical day job, lunch plus 2-3 snacks are a minimum to bring with you every day. If you aren’t getting up early enough to make breakfast or if you get home too late to cook dinner, those need to be prepped also. We are going to dive into meals – snack info will come at a later date. Remember, both meals and snacks are required daily – EVERYONE needs to be eating frequently over the course of the day (every 2-3 hours).
There are two major ways you can prep your meals:
WEEKEND BULK COOK
Pros: Frees the week up from cooking, calories and macros can be perfect, super convenient to eat during the week
Cons: Takes away free time on Sunday, food isn’t as fresh toward the end of the week, variety can be tough
Much of what you see in social media when we refer to bulk cooking or meal prep refers to the weekend bulk cook. Here you will cook a ton of food, measure it out into Tupperware, and be set for the entire week. Some people will cook every meal for the week right now. Others will cook their breakfast daily, so all they need to worry about it lunch and dinner. Personally, I like my Sundays free and want fresher food throughout the week, so I don’t choose this approach. However, try it out and if it works for you, comment below on what you made to share with others!
COOK ALMOST DAILY
Pros: Fresher food, more variety, weekends are free
Cons: Daily time consumption
Personally, I cook almost every night. I don’t typically plan which nights I will and won’t cook, it usually goes by my day, how I feel, or our plans for later in the week. I enjoy the freedom of not being confined to a certain meal and I typically enjoy cooking. So, 3-4 nights a week, I cook, and I cook a lot of food! This gives me the freedom to cook what I want to eat that night and have leftovers for lunch the next day. I’ll typically also throw and extra meat and veggie in there too so a few more meals can be made. This gives us plenty of meals to eat throughout the week and allows me to skip a night of cooking when I want to.
Below would be a typical dinner for myself and my wife if I were cooking our lunches and dinners for next day or two. She will eat one lunch daily and I will eat two to meet our caloric needs. Both are around the size, but I am aiming for 3500+ calories and she is currently around 2000 calories. If you need more calories but can only eat one lunch a day for job reasons, just make it larger. I wake up an hour before I have to be anywhere to cook breakfast so that is not included in the (almost) nightly cook.
Time: 45 minutes
(4) Chicken Breasts
(8) Chicken Thighs
(1) Red Pepper
(1) Green Pepper
(1) Yellow Pepper
(1) Broccoli Head
(1) Cauliflower Head
(1) Bag of fingerling potatoes
-Salt and Pepper
-Coconut Oli Spray
(3) Burritos – tortillas, chicken thighs, brown rice, peppers/onions
(4) Chicken Breasts with roasted potatoes and broccoli/cauliflower
(2) Chicken Tights with brown rice and peppers/onions
Set Oven to 400. Spray 3 baking dishes with coconut oil spray. Put 4 chicken breast in one dish and season with salt and pepper. Put into oven (while preheating is okay) and set oven timer for 45 minutes. Wash potatoes and cut in half. Put into other baking dish and season with salt, pepper, and coconut oil. Put into oven (by now they will be in there around 35 minutes). Wash broccoli and cauliflower. Rub with coconut oil and place on a third dish. Put into oven (should be around 25 minutes to go). Begin warming 2 frying pans with coconut oil or spray. Wash peppers and onions, cut, and rub in coconut oil. Prep chicken by seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook thighs on pan for around 10 minutes on each side. Cook peppers and onions in another pan, constantly stirring vegetables for around 20 minutes. After thighs and peppers/onions are done, everything from the oven will be done as well as ready to be dispersed as you please.
Below is my breakfast I cook for myself and my wife each morning. Depending on the day I will swap out my carb (hashbrowns) and replace with another carb such as a bagel, toast, or fruit, but the meal always consists of protein, fat, and carbs and is around 850 calories for me.
Time: 12 minutes
Using two frying pans, put bacon into one pan and hashbrowns into the other on medium heat. Bacon will need about 4 minutes per side. While bacon is cooking, crack eggs into bowl. After bacon is done, put eggs into frying pan that the bacon was in. Flip the hashbrowns to cook the other side. Cook your eggs as desired. Once the eggs are done, the hashbrowns will be as well. BOOM! Breakfast is done.
Above are just some examples of what I do to cook the vast majority of what goes into my body. You need to find out what works best for you. Try cooking on the weekends. Commit to cooking almost every night. See what you enjoy the most and what sets you up for a lifetime of taking care of your nutrition. Just don’t overcomplicate it – keep it simple, cook basic dishes, and avoid having to go eat out every day.
Sean Spire is the Head Coach of ASL. He was a competitive swimmer who discovered CrossFit and Ironman Triathlons. He has his BS in Exercise Science from Florida State University.